Crowdsourcing Project: Bracero History Archive

For this week’s assignment, I chose to look at the Bracero History Archive. This database collects oral histories and artifacts from the Bracero initiative of the 1940s-1960s. During WWII, the US faced a shortage of manual laborers so it created this initiative in agreement with the Mexican government. Under this program, millions of Mexican workers were brought to the US to work primarily in the agricultural and railroad industries. I chose to work on this crowdsourcing project because I had personally never heard of the Bracero initiative and wanted to learn more about it. The creators of the site felt that much of American society is relatively unaware of the initiative in part because of a lack of primary sources. They created the site so that people attached to the initiative could post their own photographs and stories regarding their own experiences. The online database contains personal stories of people connected to the program, either the workers themselves or the family members of workers. The site relies on crowdsourcing to create posters using the Omeka platform that features some of the items in the BHA’s archival collection.

Unfortunately, I was not able to contribute to the BHA because to do so, I would have to first install Omeka on my computer. Before I did this, however, I would have to install specific LAMP software that Omeka could use as a platform. Unfortunately, my computer was unable to successfully install this software, and I was unable to create any posters. I was disappointed by this because I very much wanted to go through the process of creating my own poster using the BHA’s archival collection and being able to contribute to the database.

Given my technological difficulties, I believe that the task of the BHA is a meaningful one, giving a  voice to the millions of Mexican migrant workers who came to the US under the Bracero program. The BHA is raising awareness of a significant social initiative that brought a great influx of Mexican workers and their families into the US, where a large percentage presumably settled. Anyone is able to access the archival material, which I believe is a great first step toward raising awareness of this specific period in history. The site seems rather limited however, for it contains only a brief history of the Bracero program and the items uploaded (oral histories, photographs, and posters). I feel that in the future, the creators of the site could perhaps make it more interactive or expand the site in some way.

Posted in Uncategorized